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What is Drought

Monitoring Drought

Drought monitoring at the national, regional, and local levels is an integral part of drought early warning, planning, and mitigation.

Challenges in Monitoring Drought

Drought is the absence of precipitation, rather than the presence of an event like a hurricane, tornado, or fire. People describe it as a “creeping phenomenon” because it slowly impacts many sectors of the economy and can last from just a few weeks or months to multiple years.

Just as drought is difficult to define, it’s also difficult to monitor—particularly to mark the beginning and end of a period of drought.

Drought’s effects also vary from region to region. Due to climatic differences, what might be considered a drought in one part of the country may not be a drought somewhere else.

The Importance of Drought Monitoring

Drought Monitoring Indicators and Indices


Related Content

Data & Maps | Current Conditions

A number of drought monitoring tools are available to help people measure drought severity and determine drought impacts. These tools include maps that depict drought severity and satellite-based maps developed and used by climate professionals. View national current conditions on this page.